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West Virginia Football Proving Move To Big 12 Is Paying Off

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Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, 14 WVU players have been selected in the NFL Draft, the most picks in a 4-year period since the NFL reduced the draft to seven rounds for WVU. Karl Joseph became just the latest in a string of first round selections for the Mountaineers.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

When Oliver Luck originally announced the hiring of Dana Holgorsen back in December of 2010, he stated "I want the Mountaineer program, and I expect us, to compete at the highest levels". In order to compete at the highest levels, the talent has to improve. Since joining the Big 12 four years ago, the Mountaineers have had 14 players selected in the NFL Draft. This is the most players taken in a four-year period since the NFL reduced to 7 rounds in 1994.

Karl Joseph started the program's talent infusion into the NFL this year by being selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 14th overall pick. Karl's selection meant WVU had a first-round pick for two consecutive years. This was the second time in program history, with Bruce Irvin's selection in 2012 and Tavon Austin's subsequent selection in 2013 the first time. Karl's selection also had another effect on the program, with WVU being the only program in the nation with a top-15 selection in four of the last five drafts. The Mountaineers are also only one of eight teams nationally to have a player selected in the first round in 4 of the last 5 years.

The four players selected in the first round since 2012 also represent one-third of the total number of first round picks in program history. WVU has had 12 players selected in the first round. Bruce Irvin was the last player to be selected in the first round who did not play at least one season in the Big 12. In 11 years of playing in the Big East (1991-2012) WVU only produced 3 first round talents. In four years in the Big 12, WVU has produced 3 first round talents.

The past two years with Kevin White and Karl Joseph, WVU has also produced the first Big 12 player taken in the draft. Karl went one selection before Corey Coleman while Kevin went 25 picks ahead of Malcolm Brown. It would have been three of the last four years but Oklahoma's Lane Johnson went four picks ahead of Tavon Austin. Since joining the conference, the Big 12 has produced 10 first round talents. WVU has produced 30% of those players, the most of the ten teams. Texas and TCU are the only other teams to produce multiple first rounders since 2013.

If you want to see all of WVU's draft picks since 1936, you can follow this Wikipedia link. Jason Kirk over at SBNation compiled a list of every draft pick and which college they were selected from. It is interesting to see that Big 12 produced the least amount of draft picks of the five major conferences. While the Big 12 may not be producing NFL talent as a conference, WVU is currently producing talent at a greater rate than it ever has before.